Evan Silva rates which NFL rookies have been the best in '09
No. 15: Matthew Stafford,
Accuracy is an issue, but Stafford is remarkably poised in the pocket and his physical ability may be even better than advertised. Detroit has a very bright future on offense with Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Kevin Smith as building blocks.
No. 14: Jerraud Powers,
Earned first-team job over longtime starter Marlin Jackson. Powers is only 5-9, 188 pounds, but tackles well and rarely lets receivers get behind him in coverage.
No. 13: Terrance Knighton,
Jaguars nose tackle
Stats don't show it, but Knighton has been a difference maker for Jacksonville's new 3-4 defense. The 321-pounder is impossible to move.
No. 12: Mike Wallace,
Quickly passed 2008 second-round pick Limas Sweed on the depth chart. A speed demon, Wallace will be tough to keep off the field the rest of the way.
No. 11: Donald Brown,
Colts running back
Joseph Addai starts, but Brown has emerged as the Colts' "closer" in crunch-time situations. Brown is easily Indianapolis' top big-play threat in the backfield.
No. 10: Louis Delmas,
"The Missile" is already Detroit's best defensive back. Delmas won Defensive Rookie of the Month in September and will only get better.
No. 9: LeSean McCoy,
Eagles running back
So good that Philadelphia's offense loses little when Brian Westbrook is out. McCoy and Westbrook will be in a nearly even rotation going forward.
No. 8: Brian Cushing,
Houston's leading tackler is one of the few bright spots on a struggling defense. Cushing has also been surprisingly effective in coverage.
No. 7: Kenny Britt,
Leads Tennessee in receiving despite playing off the bench as a "third" receiver. Also a potent run blocker, Britt is already a better all-around wideout than Justin Gage.
No. 6: Eugene Monroe,
Jaguars left tackle
Missed time due to undisclosed illness, but otherwise has been outstanding in pass protection. Jacksonville's offense is on the rise after a slow start.
No. 5: Rey Maualuga,
Fumble-forcing machine is stout against the run and has helped turn around Cincinnati's defensive fortunes. Maualuga has also shown impressive toughness playing through injury.
No. 4: Percy Harvin,
Home-run hitting slot receiver scored in each of the first three weeks. He's added a dynamic element to Minnesota's attack in two facets of the game.
No. 3: Johnny Knox,
Still a fairly raw route runner, but extremely explosive kickoff returner and dangerous deep threat. Knox has given Chicago credibility at wide receiver.
No. 2: Mark Sanchez,
Much more NFL ready than expected after just 16 college starts. Hands down, Sanchez is the early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
No. 1: Michael Oher,
Ravens right tackle
Powerful and highly athletic, Oher has been a dominant force for an offense that has a great chance to be the most productive in franchise history.
Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, Raiders receiver Louis Murphy, Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, Jaguars right tackle, Eben Britton, Colts receiver Austin Collie, Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Bills right guard Eric Wood, 49ers running back Glen Coffee, Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline, Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, Chargers right guard Louis Vasquez, Giants running back Gartrell Johnson, Lions RB/KR Aaron Brown, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman, Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings, Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt, Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas, Bengals running back Bernard Scott, Bills tight end Shawn Nelson, Browns center Alex Mack, Seahawks guard Max Unger.
Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry, Eagles safety Macho Harris, Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith, Bears safety Al Afalava, Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler, Bills defensive end Aaron Maybin, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson, Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, Giants cornerback Bruce Johnson, Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, Chargers linebacker Larry English, Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox, Patriots defensive tackle Myron Pryor, Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.